In honour of BC’s Make-a-Will Week 2021, we are providing short answers to big questions that we are commonly asked in the estate planning process – starting with “Can I Leave My Estate to My Pet When I Die?”
THE (SHORT) ANSWER:
Your pet may understandably feel like a member of your family. However, under current BC law, pets are considered property. Therefore, you cannot gift property directly to your pet in your Will.
Having said that, there are estate planning strategies that can be used to care for your pet in accordance with your wishes after you die. For example, you could gift your pet to a trusted person in your Will, and also gift money to that person with a stated wish that the funds be used for the pet's care. You could alternatively set up a "purpose trust" in your Will that directs the trustee to pay out funds for the benefit of your pet for the pet's lifetime (subject to certain restrictions).
It should be noted that estate planning for pets is a highly complex area of law (particularly if a purpose trust is involved), and should only be undertaken with appropriate care and legal advice.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.